Gavin Watson: Family wants independent inquiry into Bosasa boss' death

The wreckage of the car Gavin Watson was driving when it was involved in a crash. (Nokuthula Manyathi)
The wreckage of the car Gavin Watson was driving when it was involved in a crash. (Nokuthula Manyathi)

The family of Gavin Watson, the embattled Bosasa CEO who died in a car accident in the early hours of Monday morning, wants an independent investigation of the crash, Business Day reported. 

SABC reported that accident reconstruction expert Konrad Lotter had been appointed by the family to probe the car crash. 

Lotter on Monday told Netwerk24 that the accident doesn't appear "normal".

The deceased former CEO of embattled Bosasa/African Global Operations was due to testify at an inquiry into his tax affairs on Tuesday.

News24 understands that the inquiry, led by advocate Piet Marais SC, was supposed to hear from Watson as part of an investigation by the South African Revenue Services (SARS) into his tax compliance.

The inquiry flowed from testimony at the commission of inquiry into allegations of state capture.

The Democratic Alliance has also called for a "thorough and transparent" police investigation into the death of Bosasa CEO Gavin Watson.

Watson's death was confirmed earlier on Monday after a car accident near OR Tambo Airport in Johannesburg. A case of culpable homicide was opened by police.

Independent reconstruction of crash sought

Business Day established that Watson's family was seeking an independent reconstruction of the crash.

At the state capture commission of inquiry, it emerged that the embattled Watson used his struggle credentials to secure lucrative business deals after the fall of apartheid.

READ | Gavin Watson was supposed to testify at tax inquiry on Tuesday

Former Bosasa COO Angelo Agrizzi turned on Watson and revealed him to be the absolute kingpin in the Bosasa empire of bribes, intimidation and cold hard cash.

During Agrizzi's testimony, Watson was painted as the key figure in a nearly two-decade-long scheme that involved paying numerous bribes to government officials and political leaders in exchange for lucrative government contracts.

Data from the National Treasury shows that, between 2004 and 2019, Bosasa netted an estimated R12bn from numerous state departments, a conservative calculation that is likely to increase.

Donation to CR17

Watson was also linked to a R500 000 donation made to President Cyril Ramaphosa's ANC election campaign, a donation Ramaphosa denied knowing anything about and which was made in such a way as to hide Watson's identity as a donor.

Since these revelations, the heat was on for Watson, with SARS investigating him to determine whether he had hidden funds, and exactly how much he may owe in unpaid taxes.

More than 20 witnesses were expected to appear before the inquiry, which is a process closed to the public as it relates to tax matters, which SARS is under legislative obligation to keep confidential, News24 earlier reported.

SARS spokesperson Sandile Memela told News24: "In terms of Section 69 of the Tax Act 2011, SARS does not share of divulge confidential information on taxpayer affairs."

It is uncertain how Watson's death will affect the inquiry.

'Plausible' Watson was fleeing SA

Agrizzi has said that it is "very plausible" that Watson may have been trying to flee the country when he died on Monday. 

"I just heard the news now. Shame. It's tragic, hey," said Agrizzi as he spoke to Tumisang Ndlovu on POWER FM on Monday.

Asked if he felt that the truth would now never be known about the controversial businessman and his role in alleged state capture, Agrizzi said Watson had never rebutted the testimony he had given at the state capture inquiry.

"But yes, it's very sad that he passed on. I mean for his family, for his kids, for his grandchildren. My condolences to them."

Asked about public speculation that Watson was attempting to flee the country and justice, Agrizzi said he had heard there were stories alleging that.

"If you consider the charges that would come against him, I mean, it would be very plausible," he said.

Police must probe accident

"The police need to probe the circumstances leading up to the fateful accident involving the Bosasa boss, whose company has billions of rand worth of tenders with the government and has channelled millions of rand into the coffers of the ANC in general and specifically the campaign of President Cyril Ramaphosa," DA spokesperson Solly Malatsi said in a statement.

Malatsi further warned that Watson's death could affect the work of the Zondo commission of inquiry.

"The death of Gavin Watson may have a material impact on the work of the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture, it is therefore vital, given SAPS stating that a case of 'culpable homicide' has been opened, that even a whiff of foul play is dispelled by a thorough and transparent investigation by the SAPS.

"This is to ensure that other witnesses are not intimidated by this incident and for the commission of inquiry to conduct its work without fear or favour." 

- Compiled by Riaan Grobler

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